Short Stirling Units of World War 2 Osprey Combat Aircraft 124
By Jonathan Falconer, illustrated by Chris Davey
Series: Combat Aircraft (Book 124)
Paperback, 96 pages, illustrated, 24 color profiles, 4 plan views
Published by Osprey Publishing April 2018
Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
The Sterling is one of those designs which is so awkward you have to love it. It was the first of the Royal Air Force’s trio of heavy bombers to enter service, but lacked the purposeful elegance of either the Halifax or the Lancaster. It had trouble reaching the cruising altitude which would have aided its survivability, so losses were heavier than they would have otherwise been. It was also plagued with reliability issues which limited its effectiveness. These factors, and the availability of superior designs in numbers, lead to the withdrawal of the Sterling from the strategic bombing mission in 1944, but it found a new lease on life as a glider tug and transport.
The author does a good job of explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the design. The book is laid out in the style expected of the Osprey Combat Aircraft Series, and Davey’s illustrations are superb. Operations involving the Sterling are described in detail but frequently that detail takes the form of lists of the squadrons, serial numbers, and pilots of each Sterling lost on a given raid which derails the flow of the narrative. Space would have been better used to relate personal accounts from the crews, of which there are too few.
A useful reference for modelers, especially on the strengths of the artwork.